Stories and photography
This fall the students at Ljubljana Multimedia and Graphic Technology Secondary School are learning about different ways of telling stories through the lens of a camera and written language. We are using a multidisciplinary approach where we combine lessons of the English language with Photography to teach students about the importance of story structure to tell a cohesive story that will captivate the audience.
Using Christopher Booker's book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories the students were introduced to three different types of plots: Rags to riches, Overcoming the monster and Rebellion against »the one«. The students then threw story cubes in groups of 4 or 5 and worked together to write a story while highlighting the chosen theme – What does it mean to be Slovene?
Following the session, the students had a lesson about the way photographers use visual language to tell stories, highlighting different photographic works and authors. Students worked on different concepts at home and created photographs that would fall in line with the chosen theme, with the objective of keeping authenticity in the captured images.
We will conclude the project with readings of stories and presentations of photographs the students took during the duration of the project with constructive critique.
Ljubljana, 23. 11. 2022
Krištof Žagar: After coming home from work Tomaž is relaxing in a chair with his favourite Slovene newspaper after eating lunch. In the background, the TV is turned on and the evening news broadcast is about to start.
Jakob Serjun: Tomos motorcycles, a Slovene motorcycle company, are known and used by young and old alike. It is a symbol of different times. All families that I know have one in their garage. Among the older generation, stories are told of love, adventure and mischieif and almost all of them have a Tomos motorcycle as an integral part, being passed on to younger generations.
Story Valley students publish school newspaper
On Tuesday 10th May, the students taking part in Story Valley at Srednja medijska in grafična šola in Ljubljana presented their special issue of the school newspaper Pixel. Over the course of their Story Valley journey, the students in Ljubljana have been learning more about the lives, stories and histories of people who have sought refuge in Slovenia, coinciding with the commemoration of thirty years since the start of the Bosnian War which saw many people move from Bosnia to Slovenia.
On their Story Valley journey, students learnt more about this wave of migration to Slovenia through a series of workshops, and then transformed what they learnt into a special thematic edition of the school newspaper.
This edition of Pixel was put together with the help of journalist Kristina Božič, who acted as Editor-in-Chief and provided students with valuable advice and guidance on their writing. The newspaper showcases the students’ hard work, including a survey on public perceptions of refugees, an interview with the former head of a refugee centre, the story of a student’s parents’ experience of escaping the war in Bosnia, book reviews, and a comic strip.
To celebrate the hard work they have put into producing the newspaper, students presented their contributions to the newspaper at the Vodnik Homstead literature house (also home to our partners Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature), along with journalist Maida Džinić, who kicked off the series of events at the school in September 2021 with a lecture on her refugee experience.
Congratulations to the students for all of their hard work and to thank you to everyone who shared stories with the students as part of their Story Valley workshops, helping them to put together this timely and important newspaper.
If you would like to take a look at Pixel, you can find it here in Slovene and English.
Story Valley heads to Ljubljana
In March 2022, it was the turn of our project partners in Ljubljana to host the second Story Valley Transnational Project Meetings after the success of our first in-person meeting in Edinburgh back in October 2021. Here’s a snapshot of what we got up to during our time together.
Day One: Lazy lunches, a history of Ljubljana, and a look around Švicarija
The meeting informally started for some of us by getting reacquainted over a lazy lunch in one of the many bars, cafes and restaurants along the Ljubljanica river that runs through the city centre. Having caught up and with our stomachs full of pizza, we then met the rest of our colleagues for a walking tour of the city. Our guide, Gregor, walked us through the city sharing fascinating insights with us into Slovenia’s communist past as part of Yugoslavia and the impact of this period of history on Slovenia today. The tour provided the opportunity to get a feel for the city whilst also learning about the (often less well-known) history of one of Europe’s smaller nations.
The tour ended near Tivoli Park – a wonderful green space situated just a short walk from the city centre and the location of our evening plans. A slightly uphill work through the park took us to Švicarija (Swisshouse), which – perhaps rather unsurprisingly is Alpine in appearance. Recently renovated, Švicarija hosts resident artists and creatives, and we were lucky enough to have a tour of the building including some of the studio spaces. In this beautiful setting, we were treated to a dinner comprising various traditional Slovene dishes and, of course, plenty of Slovene wine!
Day Two: Story Valley updates and a trip to SMGŠ
Day two kicked off with more sunshine and hanging out at Vodnik Homestead. Vodnik Homestead is the birthplace of Slovene poet, priest, publicist, archaeologist, linguistic, translator and headmaster Valentin Vodnik (1758-1819). Today, it is a multi-purpose literary centre that hosts events, workshops, concerts and exhibitions and is also the home of Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature. After a small tour of the different parts of the building, we enjoyed a coffee in the front porch of the building accompanied by the two rather friendly local cats who are a regular presence there and proved rather popular with us all.
Once suitably fuelled, it was time for the serious business of holding project meetings, sharing progress updates since the meeting in Edinburgh, workshopping ideas, and developing plans for the project moving forwards. The discussions we had were as lively as ever, with everybody sharing ideas for how we can make Story Valley even more exciting and spread the word about the project as far and wide as possible. Meeting in-person as we have done twice now seems to provide the opportunity for more free-flowing discussions than over Zoom, and really seem to help with the development of the project as a whole.
After lunch in a little local restaurant next to Vodnik Homestead (eating everything on your plate was obligatory, unless you wanted a telling off from the owner!), we all jumped on the bus to pay a visit to our project partner Srednja Medijska in Grafična Šola Ljubljana (also known as SMGŠ, which is far easier), or in English. SMGŠ is a secondary school specialising in Media and Graphics, and during our visit we were given a tour of the school and the different subjects taught there. Students and teachers shared their work with us, including typography, video production, printing (including 3D printing!), and book binding. It was great to learn more about what is happening in one of the schools taking part in Story Valley, it really brought the project to life and made it feel more real.
Day Three: Evaluation, inspiration, and possibly the best pizza ever
The third and final day of the meeting was held in the beautiful Town Hall right in the heart of the city. We started by sharing some of the results of the evaluation work we have recently been doing with the students and teachers in the partner schools and colleges who have been taking part in the initial trials of implementing the Story Valley approach to teaching and learning. Sharing the latest findings of this work resulted in fruitful conversations regarding potential tweaks to make ahead of the next round of trialling teaching materials and further questions to ask in later round of evaluation. This process of listening to and learning from on student and teacher feedback will ensure the final Story Valley outputs will be of the highest possible standard and have considered the perspectives of those who have experienced Story Valley for themselves.
We were then joined by various Ljubljana partners to learn about some of the exciting creative work happening across the city, which proved to be very exciting and inspiring indeed. We heard from representatives from the Storytelling Festival and Storytelling Studio, Fabula – Literature of the World Festival, Itn. Festival, Library under the Treetops, and Tinta International Comics Festival. It was great to hear from the people who play such an active role in making Ljubljana the vibrant, colourful and creative city that it is, be able to ask them questions about their work, and build new connections and relationships with them. The meeting finished on a real high with everyone feeling energised by these presentations.
After some downtime in the afternoon, where some walked up to Ljubljana Castle, some sought out ice-cream, and others opted for a restorative nap, a few of us walked to an embankment on the river called Špica for a local beer or two and to watch the world go by after a productive couple days. The meeting ended on a real high thanks to our hosts’ choice of restaurant for the evening, where many of us agreed that we were treated to some of the best pizza we have ever eaten. It was so good, in fact, that some decided to save their crusts and take it to the airport with them the next morning.
Counting down to the third meeting…
The second Story Valley Transnational Project Meeting continued where we left off at the end of the first meeting in Edinburgh. It provided an opportunity for everyone on the project to get to know each other a little more, spend time together in a beautiful city, and (most importantly) have some really productive discussions and further develop Story Valley. Similar to our visit to Edinburgh College in October, our trip to SMGŠ really brought the project to life and allowed us to become acquainted with the people taking part in Story Valley and the spaces where it all happens. A big thank you needs to go to our project partners in Ljubljana for planning such a brilliant trip and hosting us in their wonderful city.
Next stop for Story Valley – Friesland!
Katie Harrison heads up the IO3 working group of Story Valley, led by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, which is primarily responsible for the production and dissemination of the Policy Framework and Toolkit. Katie holds a PhD in Linguistics (Modern Languages) from the University of Nottingham, where she also currently works as a postdoctoral research fellow. Her areas of research specialism include sociolinguistics, multilingualism, language education, and Slavonic languages.
IT HAPPENED IN OUR BACKYARD
A year-round initiative for collecting and recording personal recollections
Next year will mark 30 years since the first wave of refugees from Bosnia came to Slovenia. The events from that time that drove a large number of people to Ljubljana are generally not well known, and little is also known about how the refugees were welcomed in Ljubljana, how their staying in Ljubljana was organized, how they spent their first years in Slovenia, how they later integrated into society, what they are doing today and how they live.
On the 30th anniversary of the first wave of refugees coming to Slovenia we will – together with the students in the Story Valley project – find individuals that came to Ljubljana as refugees, and record their personal recollections in creative ways.
In October 2021 we will organize a talk at the Secondary School of Multimedia and Graphic Technology with Maida Džinić Poljak and her colleagues who came to Ljubljana in the 1990’s and started a new life here. During the talk, they will explain to the students why they had to leave their homes, how they came to Ljubljana and how they integrated into society.
The teachers will encourage students to find stories and recollections in their own environment as well and the students will then be prompted to record them in various creative ways:
In the school year 2021/22 the students will read books on the subject (we have prepared a list of 5 books students will discuss in school), write down the stories (one of the mentor for the creative writing workshop that will be organized in the school will be Goran Vojnović, one of the most established contemporary Slovenian writers) - together with other the other material (photo stories) the students will collate and publish the stories in the school newspaper;
The students will watch movies (in cooperation with the Slovenian Cinematheque we will organize movie screenings and talks on the subject);
The students will also write scripts, make films and record the experiences and recollections in other creative ways.
The project will run in different stages, and will initially take place at the Secondary School of Multimedia and Graphic Technology in the school year 2021/22. The next step in 2022 will be to invite other secondary schools in Slovenia to take part in the project. Together with the partners the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) and the National Education Institute Slovenia we will prepare pedagogical materials based on the stories - this will encourage teachers in the secondary schools to include the subject in the school curriculum. We will also invite teachers to do similar activities in other schools.
For the purpose of preparing the pedagogical materials and as a source of stories for the students we will record 20 stories of refugees that came to Ljubljana 30 years ago in the City Museum of Ljubljana.
In 2022, we will organize a small festival in Ljubljana with several partner organizations. With it, we want to introduce the subject and the collected stories to a wider audience - with a concert, an exhibition in the City Museum, a short documentary film, a reconstruction of a stage play that the refugee children did in the 1990’s in Ljubljana with a mentor Draga Potočnjak.
The project is managed and delivered under the STORY VALLEY programme.
Organization: Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature office and the Secondary School of Multimedia and Graphic Technology
Partners: Bosnian and Herzegovian cultural centre, ZRC SAZU, the National Education Institute Slovenia and The City Museum in Ljubljana
International Partners: Friesland College (Netherlands), New Noardic Wave (Netherlands), Learning Hub Friesland Foundation (Netherlands), Edinburgh City Council (Scotland), Edinburgh College (Scotland), Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature (UK), The National Literacy Trust (UK)